(No luck on imdb, at least not so far)
I think the plot premise was “scientists do cute things with radiation”, not sure about that, but the upshot of it is that they’ve got an intelligent ant colony out there to deal with and they’re trying to communicate with the human scientists.
At least one highly-placed scientist is strictly geared towards “wipe them out quickly or they’ll wipe us out instead”. Military strategy chess match between the scientists (and the technologies available to them) and the ants (and what they are able to learn, acquire, etc). I think the ants had access to TV signals or radio and learned a lot about humans that way, as well as exchanging messages with the scientists.
I seem to recall the ants getting the upper hand towards the end, dropping the ground out from under the “wipe 'em out” scientist and putting him on trial in a courtroom (ants carve out the shape of a courtroom in the dirt and then eat the ground out from under the guy’s feet so that there he is, in their courtoom) and upon convicting him of attempted genocide hurl themselves down upon him (I guess they were of the biting kind).
Other scientists in the group were more of the perspective of “How fascinating, another intelligent species! Let’s see if we can co-exist” and therefore the usual squaring off between those two perspectives among the scientists.
Did it have Joan Collins? She made Empire of the Ants , which I haven’t seen but it’s definitely about an attack by intelligent ants.
There’s also Them (which again, I’ve never seen) about ants mutated in an A-Bomb blast.
Neat-sounding movie. I am no help here, except to say that I’m not sure why the ants would need access to radio, etc. to learn all about us. They’re everywhere, aren’t they? All they would have to do is hang out in our walls. Or get their tiny minions to do likewise–you didn’t say if they were giant ants.
Intelligent ant colonies–we would definitely lose. We’d better kill all the ants now, to be safe.
Could it be the 1970s oddity Phase IV? It’s been years since I’ve seen it but the description in the OP vibes with some of my memories.
I’m 99% certain widdershins is correct. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but it rings a lot of bells. (I also have the tie-in novelization.)
Phase IV is a highly unconventional film, equal parts SF thriller, metaphysical horror, and tone poem. The director is Saul Bass, probably more famous for his strikingly graphic title sequences (for Hitchcock among others) than for the couple of obscure movies he directed. Even if it isn’t the movie being discussed (which I think is unlikely), it’s still worth a look if this kind of flick is up your alley.
Stay away from Invasion of the Bee Girls, though.
Following up: Here’s a pretty detailed writeup on it. (Note, it’s not this one.
I’m not much for remakes of cult classics, but Phase IV suffers from a few significant flaws (a lot of people hate it despite the provocative ideas), and in my opinion the concept is ripe for rediscovery and reimagining.
I think it is most likely Phase IV. I have yet to unearth a description of an “ant trial” at the end but the rest of it sure fits, including the towers that the ants built.
Tried to rent it to view tonight but the local videostore didn’t have it in stock.